Pilots in the Spotlight

By The Beacon | April 4, 2012 9:00pm

Senior guard/forward Natalie Day shares her future plans, inspiration for playing

Natalie Day (Photo courtesy of portlandpilots.com)

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer -- marcello13@up.edu

Being from Maryland, what brought you to Portland?

I have family in Seattle, so after leaving Howard (University) I wanted to get a change of scenery. I actually wanted nothing to do with the East Coast so I decided to look for schools here on the West Coast. I was actually turned down by USF (University of San Francisco) which landed me here.

Who is the best player you've ever faced?

I only remember the year that I'm playing so this year a player that always stands out is Alex Cowling from LMU. She led our conference in scoring as well as rebounding, and she's a tough player so she's good competition.

What has your experience been like playing for the Pilots?

It's been eventful, and I think I have had a unique experience as a Pilot. It's taught me a lot, a lot of things I've had to learn the hard way but I think what I've learned I can use for the future.

How did you find out you had been invited to the WNBA Combine Camp?

I actually found out back in February. I think I started out the season ranked 25th in the nation in scoring and I think that put me on the radar of a lot of WNBA coaches' minds, but as the season progresses everyone starts scoring and teams start getting at it. My coaches were the first to tell me they received letters or emails with the WNBA logo, saying they were interested in me. As our season closed they were telling me more and more how they were asking for my information. I had to get WNBA screened, a full medical screening and then I was officially invited towards the end of our season. I didn't hesitate at all to accept and make plans to head that way.

How does it feel to know you are being looked at by the WNBA?

It is surreal. My goal initially was just to get overseas, get an agent and to play overseas, to explore Europe or I'd love to go to South America. I really didn't expect the WNBA to flash anywhere within that so it's great.

Who or what got you started playing basketball?

I was a nerd, I played an instrument (flute) from fourth grade to sophomore year of high school, and I continue to play it now without classes. I mainly read books and learned Spanish and studied it for ten years. Then I started to watch my friends in middle school who were on the basketball team and I had never really paid attention to athletics and one day I just decided I'm going to try out for the basketball team. It didn't go very well, I sat on the bench the whole time, I can't even remember participating in practice that much either. Then in my ninth grade year I really decided I was going to come in and try for the JV team and I wanted varsity so bad. I can't say anyone put the ball in my hands, I just looked around and said, "I think I can do that.

What is it like playing for the Virgin Island National Team?

It's great playing for the Virgin Island National Team because my ultimate goal with basketball is a chance to play in the Olympics. I don't even care if I place, just the fact that I might be present in the Olympics is great and that team gives me the opportunity to work towards that. It is extremely hard to play for the USA national team, and the Virgin Islands are a U.S. territory so it is kind of associated which is cool. These past summers have been great, I just travel around the Caribbean and play different teams around there. We played in Puerto Rico the year before last and the Bahamas last summer so leaving and going on an all expenses paid trip to an island is always good. I've been using it to get ready for upcoming seasons, and I got tournament MVP last season and I lead in scoring and rebounding in the tournament. This year I'm using it to hopefully further my career.

Tim Duncan is from the Virgin Islands, are you a fan?

I actually wasn't a huge Tim Duncan fan, I knew he was from St. Croix, but I hadn't ever really paid attention to him but that's probably because I actually never watched sports for a long time and it is even really hard for me to watch now days.

You've had a very well rounded career, being in the top 10 school history in many of the major categories. What is it like knowing you have made your mark in so many categories of the programs history?

It's unbelievable because coming in I never paid attention to stats. I was playing, I was scoring, I was rebounding and then to find out now that it's all said and done I'm actually knocking people out of the top ten is crazy, it's surreal.